I was never a dad, but I got to be an uncle.
And I remember seeing my niece grow up.
The oldest of my oldest brother.
And by four she was taking after me, as though I were a God.
I would run, and she would run. No one else ever ran, but me.
They always made fun of me. My siblings. For my diets, too.
And she became a cross-country runner like me.
A steady runner who doesn’t drop pace like her younger brother.
And I I I I I’m so glad to be her uncle.
Prettiest thing I have ever seen.
But we don’t talk anymore, like we used to.
Her mother won’t have it. Mad at me since I split my other older brother’s lip.
Since that day that I split his lip, and blood began to drip.
As Beartooth sings, he tried to shut me up with his fists, and I split his lip.
And others, too, tried to shut me up with their fists.
And my mother, too. And my father, too.
My other brother, too. My two sisters, too.
They try to shut me up with their fists–doctors, police, drugs, neighbors, and religion.
They use all of these, too, to shut me up with their fists.
All of it they use as a bludgeon. Their religion as a bludgeon.
And so many people I know use their religion as a bludgeon and a shame.
But my niece the Superstar the Beautiful one, she does not.
And we don’t talk like we used to.
At her brother’s basketball game, the others all left me to sit on the opposite side.
She sat by me, and we talked and we talked.
But they try to shut her lips, too. They try to shut her lips with their fists.
But like Five Finger Death Punch, I will never give up. I will never quit.
And like Beartooth, I’ll stand “loud and proud” to be who I am.
I won’t let them beat me in.
I split my brother’s lip with my fists when he tried to shut me up with his fists.
It was an eagle feather, lying on the ground. He is the lawyer.
She wanted an eagle feather. No knowledge of the law.
I picked it up for her. My brother not the father of her, lashed at me,
FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLAR FINE!!!!!!!
“For collecting garbage?” I said. “The eagle didn’t want it. It’s just garbage here.”
Until he pushed and I pushed back. I split his lip, and his wife screamed,
“[Bleep Bleep Bleep], YOUR LIP IS BLEEEEEDING!!!!!”
But I didn’t start. I never did. Our whole lives, and he always shut me up with his fists.
He started it.
And he screamed at my mother to call the cops, handing her the phone.
He is a lawyer. And that’s how my family plays the game.
To shut people up by beating in their lips with their fists.
But my niece is a runner, but she doesn’t have to be.
She can be anything, do anything she wants to or be.
I always dreamed that my little sister would be a runner, but she didn’t.
She got fat watching cartoons and making desserts by the time she was 9.
But my dream was fulfilled in my beautiful niece.
And now she turns sixteen. She’ll be a bane to her father.
He fondled me when I was just a boy. Five years my senior.
I thought, “What!!? Why did you…” And I didn’t know what to do.
He’s always so jealous. Consumed with jealousy of everybody and everything.
I had some peanut M & M that I gave to niece and brother.
That brother saw and immediately bought a package five times bigger.
And that’s just how he is. It’s all a one-up game with him.
But his daughter my niece will get her freedom. That will eat him up.
He is so absolutely possessive. He can’t have it any other way.
And that will be his curse–her beauty.
We all get our freedom at some point, but some choose to forego it.
Her greedy father talked about football.
The coach coming in who was borne in Russia,
As my brother said, presented a plan to be state champions.
He’d had many state banners with another school.
And it didn’t happen. My brother blamed everyone else. He’s always that way.
Said, “If only EVERYONE had bought — I did — we would have done it!”
But there are blamers, and there are claimers.
Those who blame others and those who take the blame for themselves.
And so it is. And so it always will be.
And some of us swim the open sea, a life with no pleasure.
My only pleasure has been to run, and I do run.
My oldest brother builds a house, and my niece was kept from running track this spring,
On account of the work into building the house. But it will never be a home.
But I know she is strong. She will pull through. She is a finisher.
Finishers endure to the end. Finishers don’t give up. Finishers persevere.
When she was three and interested in horses, she asked me, “Where are they?”
I pointed to the trees far down in the pasture, and said, “Far away by trees.”
The following summer when they visited again from California,
She came to me and repeated simply and with such humble simplicity,
“Horses far away down by trees.” She remembered everything I taught her.
And she is an artist like I.
She had a fish in California. A goldfish. And I always remembered the name.
I still chuckle to this day, at the name she gave her fish.
I loved it so much.
Her fish’s name was Cartoons.
Her fish’s name was Cartoon. Best name for a fish I ever heard.
I am not of the Beautiful People, but I am glad to be close family to one.
I never met any other person on earth worth anything at all.
But she is worth more than they all.
If she runs, may she run strong.
If she cries, may the tears dry.
If she achieves, may she ever with forward gaze.
Look forward and never backward, ahead. Always, with face.
Claimers and Blamers. Claimers and Blaimers. Claimers and Blamers.
And Blamers will never be never beautiful people in any way.
It takes soul to be beautiful, and blamers will never be beautiful.